With record temperatures and a record number of entries, the beautiful half mile in Leamington once again played host to the first round of Thunderfest. As the mercury in the thermometer hit the mid thirties, it proved to be a sign of things to come as action on the track heated up as well.
Open Expert action saw a mix of bikes take the grid but on this night the Harley Davidson XR 750 seemed to be the bike of choice. Making his first appearance of the season was defending number one plate holder Don Taylor and he was back with a vengeance as he opened up an early lead after taking the green. As the laps counted down, Doug Lawrence was making steady progress on Taylor as his Harley seemed to like the brushed off track as well. As the leader took the white flag, Lawrence put on one final charge but most likely needed one more lap as he fell just short at the line to Taylor. Tyler Seguin rounded out the podium in third finishing ahead of New Yorker Ryan Wells.
Earlier in the evening Seguin had perhaps put on the ride of the night in the Dash for Cash. Using all of his talent and even more of the track, Seguin held off the larger displacement bikes to take the lion's share of the cash in the exciting four lap sprint.
In Expert DTX action it was hometown boy Nick Wenzler crossing the line first surprising a few of our heat race winners. Wenzler was the sole Canadian representative in the top three as Parker Norris and Ryan Wells took the final two spots on the podium. A red flag early in the race caused by Devin Pfeiffer going through the fence in turn one was extremely unfortunate not only for Pfeiffer but for Kyle Vanconant as well. Vanconant had grabbed the holeshot in the first try at completing the race and was doing a superb job holding off everyone at the front of the pack before the red. Vanconant was still able to put in a solid ride after the restart and ended up fifth.
Intermediate action once again turned into the Brodie Buchan show as he grabbed convincing wins in both Open and DTX action. The script was the same in both races as Buchan grabbed the early lead and stretched it out while everyone else in the field tried to play catch up. Cody Marentette and Braden Vallee took second and third respectively in both races, but both riders came up a little short in trying to run with Buchan.
Novice action saw perhaps the best race of the day and easily one of the best of the year. The DTX race was one for the ages as Trent Pickle and Dustin Brown were virtually side by side for the final four laps of the race. Pickle did everything he could to hold the bottom line while Brown blasted around the deep stuff at the top of the track. As the final few laps counted down the two riders would be separated by fifty feet of track in the corners only to meet up beside each other on the straights. As they excited turn four on the final lap, Pickle made the low line work as he held off Brown by inches at the line as Pickle's hometown crowd roared its approval. Rounding out the top three was another hometown boy as motocrosser Luke Rahm had a great ride to take third.
VET action saw Steve "RA RA" Ball take his first ever win at Leamington as he took the victory over Leamington's own Wayne Young and Rob Churchill.
Youth 85 action saw Hunter Bauer take the win over Jimmy McCullough and Brandon Newman but the big news in this class was the number of entries. Nineteen riders were signed up for this class which meant when the green lights flashed for the final there were a few riders watching instead of racing. Great stuff seeing this many riders in the the youth classes !
The day was a special one as the riders and spectators on hand paid tribute to the late Jesse Phibbs. A rising star on the flat track scene, Phibbs passed away in 2010 after a very unfortunate incident at the Indy Mile. Saturday saw most of the riders on hand do a lap of honour in Jesse's memory followed by Brodie Buchan turning some laps on Jesse's Rotax. Eyes in the crowd were moist as the we all remembered the fine young man that will forever be linked to Thunderfest.
Other Results from Leamington
Novice Open: Dustin Brown, Trent Pickle, Luke Rahm
Vintage: Kevin Lambert, Mark Fairfull, Brad Kitto
Youth 65: Brandon Keys, Jacob Peacock, Maguire Scott
Youth 50 Chain: Spencer Whittam, Olivia Farkas, Easton Ventoso
Youth 50 Shaft: Alyssa Armstrong, Hannah Musson, Emily Biekx
Novice 250: Brandon Newman, Hunter Bauer, Boyd Deadman
Photos by Chris Rahm
Flat Track Canada would like to thank Parts Canada, Deeley Harley Davidson, Honda Canada, Suzuki Canada, Kawasaki Canada, Diesel Equipment Limited, Dunlop Tires, Klotz Canada, Inside Motorcycles, Grand River Powersports, Sturgess Cycle, Town Moto, and JD Graphics.
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